Tim Jernigan

Why Eagles match up so well vs. mobile Russell Wilson

Why Eagles match up so well vs. mobile Russell Wilson

The Eagles' defense faces one of the most challenging offensive weapons in the NFL on Sunday — Russell Wilson has his hand in more than 80 percent of the Seahawks' offensive output. Whether it's leading the team in rushing with 401 yards, rushing for three TDs or throwing for 23, Wilson is more than a dual-threat QB. 

What makes Wilson so challenging to defend is his ability to evade pass rushes and look down the field. Wide receivers in this offense adjust to come back and make themselves available better than any WR unit in the NFL. Scramble drill has almost become a regular play-call with Wilson's offense.
 
Now, how do you defend Wilson's scramble drill?
 
The Eagles are best-suited to play against a mobile quarterback. Let me explain why. It is very seldom that teams in the NFL have two stud defensive tackles who can collapse the pocket. The Eagles have the ideal situation with Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan. Both linemen are explosive and very good pass rushers. They are one-gap players — their only responsibility is to occupy one gap. Both of these players go about this explosively and  aggressively. 

Defensive coordinator Jim Schartz encourages the D-line to get up the field and reestablish a new line of scrimmage, to push the opposition's offensive line back, which presses the pocket. With this push up the middle of the interior of the O-line, it presses the gap in which QBs have to react and step into throws.
 
The Eagles also have very good rush ends in Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry and Chris Long. The defensive ends apply constant pressure on most QBs by running the arc. 

Running the arc is when the DEs get up the field on the outside and turn the corner toward the QB. Against mobile QBs like Dak Prescott, Cam Newton and Wilson, the DE has to approach the rush differently. Instead of running the arc, they must rush to the same level of the QB in the pocket and press toward the QB. This will box the QB in the pocket and allow the Eagles' interior rushers (D-line) to pressure the QB to the DEs. 

This will also keep Wilson at a disadvantage if he stays in the pocket because he is shorter than most QBs and may find it hard to see over his blockers. Keeping Wilson in the pocket and forcing him to be a pocket passer won't be the easiest task, but the Eagles are well-equipped to do it.

Eagles' rush defense proves elite once more against run-heavy Bears

Eagles' rush defense proves elite once more against run-heavy Bears

With four minutes left in the game, Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky broke the Eagles' hearts with an 11-yard run down the left sideline.
 
Of course, that run didn't mean anything. It didn't set up a touchdown or field goal. It came at the end of an Eagles blowout win (see Roob's observations). In fact, Trubisky threw an interception a few plays later
 
What that 11-yard run did do was give the Bears positive rushing yardage for the game.

Yep. It rescued them from the ignominy of rushing for less than zero yards in an entire football game.
 
"I was mad," Malcolm Jenkins said after the Eagles' 31-3 win over the Bears at the Linc (see breakdown). "I wanted to keep them to negative yards."
 
Before that run — the Bears' last running play of the game — the NFL's fifth-ranked rushing offense had negative-five yards on 13 carries.
 
Trubisky made the final totals 14 for 6.
 
The Eagles have been exceptional all year against the run. They were No. 1 in the league before this game. And against a top-5 rushing attack, they showed why.
 
"It would have been pretty cool to hold them to negative-six," Tim Jernigan said. "I wouldn’t have been complaining.”
 
As it was, the Bears finished with their fewest rushing yards in 65 years — since they had one rushing yard in a loss to the Rams in 1952. 

It was the fewest rushing yards the Eagles have allowed in 71 years — since they held the Boston Yanks to minus-26 yards in a win in 1946.

Historic stuff. And it happened against a Bears team that came in fifth in the NFL with 132 rushing yards per game and sixth with 4.5 yards per carry.
 
So much for those numbers.
 
Bears halfback Jordan Howard ranked third in the NFL in rushing before Sunday, but he finished with six yards on seven carries with a long gain of four. Rookie Tarik Cohen had a 12-yard loss and finished with minus-11 yards on two carries. Benny Cunningham had one carry for minus-one yard.
 
"We knew them running the ball was going to be their way of trying to beat us," Jernigan said. "So we were kind of keeping tabs on where they were."
 
Where were they?
 
The Bears' running backs finished with minus-six yards on 10 carries.
 
"That’s pretty impressive and hard to do in this league, and they have two good backs," safety Rodney McLeod said. "Howard’s like top-three in the league, and Jim (Schwartz) told us all week our objective is to stop the run, nothing else, and that’s what we did today."
 
The Eagles are now 10-1 with a nine-game winning streak, and their run defense is one of the biggest reasons why (see report card).
 
They've allowed 716 rushing yards so far, and that’s the seventh-fewest in NFL history after 11 games.
 
“That was the big emphasis this week," Brandon Graham said. "We just wanted to go out there and do our job. We made it about us and obviously, we got the job done today.
 
“You’ve got to get them with numbers and then you’ve got be technically sound. You have to go out there and make sure you don’t try to do anyone else’s job because that’s when they crease you. … We were out there busting our butt, everybody was doing their job and flying around. We played good team D against their run.”
 
The only team to surpass 100 rushing yards against the Eagles this year was the Cowboys with 112 last week.
 
The Eagles won by four touchdowns, but the Eagles were committed to not letting it happen again.
 
"The coaches let us know that first day we started breaking down film," Jernigan said, "coach Schwartz was just demanding, 'Hey, we gotta make sure we take care of 24 (Howard).' Especially after not having much success against Dallas. They had a couple plays that popped, and we wanted to make sure we cleaned it up and got back in the groove of things."
 
With no running game to speak of and the Eagles' lead growing bigger and bigger, Trubisky was forced to throw 33 times. He passed for only 147 yards, was sacked twice, fumbled twice and was intercepted twice.
 
"Stats are cool but at the end of the day, we just go out there and play hard, prepare well and just do our job," McLeod said. "And our job vs. any opponent is always to stop the run first and get them in passing situations and let our guys up front eat, and the rest is history."
 
The Eagles' defense hasn't allowed a touchdown since garbage time of the Broncos game — they led 44-9 when the Broncos scored — and they haven't allowed a rushing touchdown since Cam Newton scored from 16 yards out six weeks ago.
 
“It’s great to see, especially when you put the work in all week," linebacker Nigel Bradham said. "When a team is pretty much telling us they’re going to run the ball on us, we feel some type of way about that. That’s one of our strengths.
 
"That’s just what it was. We executed, we showed up, and we did what we wanted."

Howie Roseman proving to be greatest sequel since The Godfather Part II

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USA Today Images

Howie Roseman proving to be greatest sequel since The Godfather Part II

Tim Jernigan, Alshon Jeffery, LeGarrette Blount, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby, Jay Ajayi, Chris Long and Jake Elliott.

A look at that list of names reveals players who have been integral pieces in contributing to the Eagles' 9-1 start. The other common denominators each share are they are all in their first season in midnight green and all were acquired through free agency or trades.

It's a pretty impressive list when you consider how each individual has impacted the Birds' season through 10 games. And the man ultimately responsible for all of these moves is The Godfather, Howie Roseman.

It's generally fool's gold when a team relies too heavily on trades and free agency. You only need to go as far back as 2011 to the Eagles' "Dream Team" to make this point. This isn't 2011, though. The 2017 club has plenty of homegrown talent, be it Carson Wentz, Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox or Brandon Graham. But there is no denying what kind of contribution the other newcomers have given the Birds.

The Eagles had some glaring areas of need entering the season. Most notable were wide receiver, cornerback and running back. And while they drafted guys who have contributed at those spots, like Mack Hollins, Rasul Douglas, and Corey Clement (who they snagged as an undrafted free agent), the players brought here through signings and deals have reaped greater rewards this season.

That's not even mentioning the future investments like Sidney Jones, who could pay major dividends at corner in years to come.

Blount and newly acquired Ajayi have formed two-thirds of the Eagles' second-ranked rushing attack. Ajayi could be the gift that keeps giving, as he gains more knowledge of the playbook and reps. The 30-year-old Blount should be fresh down the stretch with the running back by committee approach the Birds employ.

And while Jeffery has not put up monster numbers, he's a big target that appears to be gaining more of a rapport with Wentz as the season has progressed, having been targeted 26 times the last three games while hauling in four touchdowns in that span.

All are essential pieces of this offense.

On the other side of the ball, Jernigan may not have been an obvious need, but has he ever had an impact? He and Cox represent the best duo in the NFL on the inside. He's been rewarded with a rich, new extension and he's a major reason the Eagles are the best team in the league against the run and have had so much success pressuring the passer.

The signing of Robinson went under the radar, for good reason. He played for three teams in the previous three seasons and looked as if he might be on his last legs entering his eighth season. Instead, he's been a find, manning the slot and providing coverage and tackling skills the Eagles' corners desperately needed.

Long has seamlessly incorporated himself into the Birds' defensive end rotation.

While his future with the club is still not a given for the rest of the season, Elliott has won the Eagles games with some big kicks in clutch time.

Combine the offseason moves with his drafts the past two years since regaining his organizational hand, and Roseman revisited is looking like the greatest sequel since The Godfather.